A cancer researcher inspects microfluidics assembly in a lab.
CEDAR researcher Danielle Brasino inspects a microfluidics assembly, a key component for creating organs-on-a-chip.

Check out what's happening at CEDAR:

CEDAR graduate student receives honor from National Science Foundation

Kira Lynch cropped

CEDAR graduate student Kira Lynch recently received an honorable mention for the National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship Program. Every year, the National Science Foundation awards fellowships to high-potential individuals early in their careers; since the program's founding, more than 40 former fellows have been awarded the Nobel Prize, and more than 400 have been elected as members to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Lynch studies with professor Monica Hinds and assistant professor Carolyn Schutt Ibsen, utilizing biofabrication techniques to model the tumor vasculature and study how endothelial cell state influences cancer progression in the context of 3D tissues. Every cycle the National Science Foundation receives more than 12,000 applications; Lynch is one of the 1788 students to receive an honorable mention.

CEDAR microfluidics research profiled by Oregon Business

Jose Montoya Mira Cropped

CEDAR's Jose Luis Montoya Mira, a research engineer, is central to a recent story in Oregon Business profiling the Corvallis Microfluidics Tech Hub, an industry coalition led by Oregon State University. The group was recently designated as a national Tech Hub by the United State Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration, and includes 40 institutes, companies, and municipalities, including OHSU. The hub is dedicated to bolstering the Pacific Northwest's microfluidics industry through collaboration, with a focus on bringing the technology to commercial scale. Montoya Mira utilizes microfluidics for cellular study, including research into "hybrid" cancer cells—cells that are a blend of tumor and blood cells, used by tumors to spread throughout the body.

Multi-cancer early detection study surpasses 5,000 participants

CEDAR recently passed 5,000 participants in the Pathfinder 2 study—a multicenter cancer early detection trial that is evaluating a blood test that can detect more than 50 cancer types. The Knight Cancer Institute is the largest recruiter for the trial; the next largest recruiting site has enrolled 3,600 participants. “Achieving this milestone in only 26 months while prioritizing diversity within our study population is no easy task — it’s a testament to our hard-working and creative research team with collaborators at OHSU and throughout the state,” said OHSU principal investigator Nima Nabavizadeh, M.D., who is also an associate professor of radiation medicine and chief medical officer for CEDAR. "I think we’ve made a clear case to biotech companies and investigators across the world that CEDAR at OHSU is a leader in the implementation of early detection clinical trials.” The test analyzes cell-free DNA circulating in the blood to look for evidence indicating the presence of cancer. More information is available on the Pathfinder 2 website.

Nima Nabavizadeh named CEDAR CMO

Nima Nabavizadeh

Nima Nabavizadeh, M.D., was named chief medical officer for CEDAR. Nabavizadeh is an associate professor in the Department of Radiation Medicine and program director for the radiation oncology residency. He previously served as director of early detection clinical research at CEDAR, and he is principal investigator for a number of early detection studies, including Pathfinder 2. In his new role, Nabavizadeh will continue to lead clinical trials at CEDAR, but will also be part of the center’s leadership team, working with Sadik Esener, Ph.D., Shelley Barton, Ph.D., Beverly Emerson, Ph.D., and others in guiding CEDAR’s mission, vision and values. “It’s been so fun being a part of our early detection clinical trials group and seeing the exciting future of cancer screening first-hand. I’m also really excited for this expanded role within CEDAR,” Nabavizadeh said. “As a radiation oncologist, I have many clinical partners and colleagues across disease sites and specialties. I hope to serve as the clinical link between our clinicians and CEDAR scientists. Fostering these collaborations will maximize the impact of OHSU’s early detection scientific discoveries on patient care and public health while advancing the career of CEDAR scientists and Knight clinical faculty."

CEDAR faculty awarded Kuni grant

Joshua Moreau Cropped

CEDAR Assistant Professor Josh Moreau received a Kuni Foundation Imagination Cancer Research Grant. The Kuni Foundation annually awards grants for up to three years to support early and mature cancer research with goals of improved detection, treatment, and outcomes. Moreau received $85,000 for investigating the role of PM2.5 air pollution in skin cancer immunity.

Jessica Riesterer elected director of MAS

Jessica L. Riesterer, Ph.D.

CEDAR Scientist Jessica Riesterer was elected as a Director to the Microanalysis Society of America (MAS). The society is a non-profit professional association dedicated to the advancement of microanalytical principles, instrumentation, and applications. MAS provides local, regional, national, and international forums for the exchange of questions and solutions regarding microanalysis problems across scientific disciplines. The more than 600 members of MAS include academic, industrial and government researchers, and commercial product developers with specialties in materials science, geology, physics, chemistry, and biological sciences. Her three-year term started in January 2024.

CEDAR faculty member selected for award

Carolyn Schutt Ibsen

The National Science Foundation selected CEDAR Assistant Professor Carolyn Schutt Ibsen, Ph.D., for its Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program, which supports early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization. Ibsen’s $615,500 award will fund her development of a 3D printable “bioink” that allows deep-penetrating ultrasound to trigger the delivery of genetic material to cells. The ultrasound waves can be focused to small spots within the 3D bioprinted structure to create desired patterns of gene delivery by activating embedded ultrasound-responsive particles.

CEDAR students receive honors

Several CEDAR graduate students were awarded for presentations and posters at recent symposiums. Haylie Helms and Michael Henderson won best poster awards at the Oregon Bioengineering Symposium Conference, held at the University of Oregon campus on November 3, 2023. Helms and Henderson, as well as fellow CEDAR graduate students Kylene Lowrey and Delaney Shea, were also among the 15 submitted abstracts awarded lightning talks, of over 100 submissions. CEDAR graduate student Rashi Yadav was also awarded for her poster at the 2nd Annual Postdoctoral Research Symposium on October 27, 2023. The symposium is cohosted by OHSU, Oregon State University, and the University of Oregon, and awards prizes in three categories: visual, content/innovation, and presentation. Yadav was awarded second prize in content/innovation.

Grail recognizes CEDAR for enrolling diverse populations in Pathfinder 2 study

GRAIL, a healthcare company pursuing new technologies to advance cancer early detection, recently recognized CEDAR/OHSU among the top 3 sites for enrolling diverse populations in their Pathfinder 2 multi-cancer early detection blood test study. CEDAR's clinical research team and the Knight Cancer Institute's Community Outreach and Engagement team have invested significant effort to recruit a diverse array of participants in the study, which seeks to evaluate the safety and performance of GRAIL’s MCED test in a population of individuals aged 50 years and older who are not actively being evaluated or treated for cancer. CEDAR's clinical research team has led outreach efforts in five Oregon counties, including to rural populations beyond Portland, and has made study materials available in multiple languages. Of the study's 29 sites in the US and Canada, OHSU is currently the top enroller overall. More information about the study, including how to participate, is available here.

CEDAR's Sadik Esener named interim director of Center for Biomedical Data Science

Sadik Esener CBDS

CEDAR Directors Sadik Esener has been named interim director of the new Center for Biomedical Data Science, a collaboration with the University of Oregon. The center will empower researchers at both institutions to attack cancer with big data, combining efforts at the Knight Cancer Institute with those at the University of Oregon's Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Insight. Esener will work closely with Bill Cresko, interim director of the UO program, as well as with scientific codirectors Xubo Song and Emek Demir, both CEDAR members. Esener says one of the early goals the newly formed leadership team will prioritize is establishing a culture that promotes innovation by initiating collaborative projects between data generators and data analysts. “A key goal of mine will be to integrate the Center within the Knight Cancer Institute,” he says. “We want to encourage strong collaboration and interaction with teams across the institute, including CEDAR, Precision Oncology, Beat AML and any interested physicians and faculty members. I believe increased communication and collaboration among these groups will have a positive impact on the Knight Cancer Institute and OHSU overall.”

GRAIL Pathfinder study findings published in The Lancet

Tom Beer Cropped

GRAIL's multi-cancer early detection (MCED) test demonstrated that the test identified many cancer types that currently lack recommended screening tests, enabling target cancer diagnostic evaluations, and supporting diagnostic resolution for the majority of participants in under three months, according to a new article published in The Lancet. The test was the central component of the Pathfinder study, conducted in 6,662 adults over the age of 50 without symptoms suggestive of cancer. The study was conducted with several partner institutions; Tom Beer, former Chief Medical Officer of CEDAR, led the study at OHSU and coauthored The Lancet publication.

Luiz Bertassoni and team featured on the cover of Advanced Healthcare Materials

Research from Luiz Bertassoni, Assistant Professor with the OHSU School of Dentistry and CEDAR member, and colleagues was featured on the cover of Advanced Healthcare Materials in September 2023. The team from the Knight Cancer Precision Biofabrication Hub devised a minimally invasive strategy for repairing lost or injured tissue using bioprinted microgels laden with stem cells and endothelial cells that grow functioning blood vessels. When injected into tissue defects, newly formed capillaries in the constructs readily merge with host blood vessels and promote connective tissue formation.

CEDAR Assistant Professor Joshua Moreau receives funding awards

Joshua Moreau Cropped

CEDAR's Joshua Moreau, Assistant Professor with the OHSU Division of Oncological Sciences, is the recipient of two prestigious funding awards. Moreau, who joined CEDAR in June 2022, explores the earliest interactions between cancer and the immune system, within the tissues where cancer cells arise. He was recently awarded grants by both the Elsa U Pardee Foundation, which funds research to investigators identifying new treatments or cures for cancer, to investigate the role of skin-resident B cells in cancer; and the LEO Foundation, for his work investigating the potential role of B cells in the inflammatory skin disease hidradenitis suppurativa.

Biofabrication Hub profiled by OHSU News

Luiz Bertassoni, Ph.D.

The new Knight Cancer Precision Biofabrication Hub recently secured more than $1 million to expand its capabilities, writes OHSU science reporter Joe Rojas-Burke. The hub allows Knight Cancer Institute and CEDAR researchers to engineer lab-grown organoids and other biofabricated models of human tissue, enabling exploration of fundamental disease processes like cancer within human cells in real time. “Now we have these additional funds to equip the hub with state-of-the art technologies,” said its director, and CEDAR Member, Luiz Bertassoni, D.D.S., Ph.D. “The real focus is to recreate cancer tissues using these fabrication techniques. This will let us dissect the complexities of cancers and understand the contribution of each one of these cells and tumor building blocks. It’s almost as if you had a big puzzle — and cancer is absolutely a big puzzle — and you can now separate each one of those pieces and see what each one of those pieces are doing." This approach is particularly crucial to CEDAR's mission, as there are limitations to the use of animal models to understand how human cancers grow and become life-threatening. The hub was funded by the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, the Knight Cancer Institute, the OHSU School of Medicine, and Bertassoni, who is an associate professor in the OHSU School of Medicine, Division of Oncological Sciences. You can read more about the Biofabrication Hub in Rojas-Burke's story.

Pathfinder 2 study profiled on KATU News

KATU News Portland recently profiled CEDAR's efforts in recruiting participants for the Pathfinder 2 multi-cancer early detection blood test. To expand the study's reach, CEDAR has teamed up with Salem Health to recruit participants in the Salem area, building on the team's recruitment efforts in Coos, Curry and Douglas counties. The blood test searches for genomic clues of an actual cancer, including cancers that currently lack early detection tools—including pancreatic and ovarian cancers. “People around Oregon, and in the greater Salem area, will be among the first to have the opportunity to be tested,” says Nima Nabavizadeh, M.D., principal investigator on the Pathfinder 2 study. “Being at the forefront of generating new knowledge means we have the ability to bring it to our communities faster.” More information about the study, including how to participate, is available here.

Aaron Grossberg receives faculty award

Aaron Grossberg Cropped

CEDAR Member and Assistant Professor of Radiation Medicine Aaron Grossberg is one of three OHSU scientists to receive the 2023 Faculty Excellence and Innovation Awards, made possible by the Silver Family Innovation Fund. As part of the award, Grossberg will receive $750,000 over three years to expand his laboratory's ability to study how cancer affects the metabolism of fat and muscle, and identify new drug targets to prevent or reverse the process of cancer-related weight loss, also known as cachexia. This metabolic condition prevents the body's normal ability to gain weight and preserve strength, adversely impacting patients' fitness to receive the best treatments for their cancer.

Matthew Rames honored as Early Career Innovator of 2023

Matthew Rames Cropped

OHSU Innovates has honored CEDAR Postdoctoral Scholar Matthew Rames as one of three Early Career Innovators for 2023. The award is given annually to a student, postdoctoral researcher or resident that shows a passion for innovation and works on novel technologies that tackle real-world problems. The honor recognizes Rames' work with the OHSU Technology Transfer Office on a project aimed at developing new ways of conjugating labels to antibodies for multiplex imaging. His work will be celebrated at the 2023 OHSU Innovation Awards on March 22, 2023. Rames earned his Ph.D. at OHSU in 2022.

Salem Statesman Journal recognizes CEDAR's efforts at increasing diversity of Pathfinder 2 study

Nima Nabavizadeh

The Salem Statesman Journal recently recognized OHSU's efforts at bringing clinical research to local communities, including recruiting more diverse participant populations. CEDAR's participation in the Pathfinder 2 study, which is investigating a multi-cancer early detection test via a simple blood draw, was among the effort detailed, CEDAR's Pathfinder 2 recruitment has reached beyond Portland, utilizing subsites in Coos, Curry and Douglas counties, where over 200 participants were enrolled in the study. Twenty percent were of enrollees were of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, and 100 percent of them were rural. All Pathfinder 2 materials are also available in Spanish. “We have multiple anecdotes of patients whose lives have certainly been changed in positive ways with the Pathfinder study,” said Nima Nabavizadeh, a radiation oncologist and principal investigator of the Pathfinder study. More information about the study, including how to participate, is available here.

Carolyn Schutt Ibsen receives faculty award

Carolyn Schutt Ibsen

The Biomedical Engineering Society's Cell and Molecular Bioengineering Conference selected CEDAR's Carolyn Schutt Ibsen, Ph.D., for its 2023 Rising Star Junior Faculty Award for her outstanding work in the field of cell and molecular bioengineering. She will be recognized at a gala dinner and provide a podium presentation in a special session at the annual conference in January. This special interest group brings together researchers with diverse scientific and clinical interests with a common goal of understanding and engineering molecules, cells, their interactions, and microenvironments in the pursuit of controlling biological processes and improving the practice of medicine.

CEDAR interns represent in international science competition

iGem Logo

Five CEDAR interns from OHSU's Summer Equity Research Program (Shawn Ichikawa, Chivon Ou, Shelby Sawyer, Matthew Tokuda and Gavin Magill) competed in the International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGem) Competition in Paris from October 26 to October 28. The team developed its cancer early detection project over the summer with CEDAR mentors Michael Brasino, Joshua Saldivar, and Carlos Origel Alberto Marmolejo. The project seeks to create a more accessible, cost-effective alternative to the present models of detecting the overexpression of c-Myc mRNA. Their aim was to create a cancer early detection diagnostic tool that most clinicians can acquire in order to determine if their patients may have cancer by taking their patient’s blood sample and inputting that sample onto an agar plate with bioengineered E. coli bacteria, which is designed to proliferate only in the presence of cancerous c-Myc mRNA. You can read more about their project at iGem's Wiki.

CEDAR student selected for mentorship honor

Cancer early detection study expands across the state

Mount Hood

The Pathfinder 2 study—designed to evaluate the performance of a multi-cancer early detection test that can detect 50 types of cancer through a simple blood draw—has recently expanded across Oregon. OHSU and CEDAR have collaborated with several Oregon health systems to make the study, and test, available to residents across the state. This greatly increases the study's accessibility, particularly for Hispanic/Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Native American/Alaska Native communities. It now covers residents in Coos Bay, Salem Bend, Hood River, and the Dalles, as well as surrounding areas. “Having the opportunity to bring this cutting-edge technology to more people across Oregon is so rewarding,” says Tiffani Howard, Ph.D., scientific liaison to GRAIL and research assistant director for community outreach and engagement, OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. “The Knight Cancer Institute is dedicated to serving people across our entire state. We know it’s not feasible for everyone who is interested in participating in this cancer early detection study to travel to Portland; now they have options closer to home.” The study is open to those who are aged 50 or older, have never been diagnosed with cancer or have been cancer-free for at least three years. Contact them at pathfinder@ohsu.edu or 503-418-8150, or visit the study webpage.

Blood test developed by CEDAR researchers holds promise for early treatment

CEDAR Blood Test Research Team

CEDAR researchers have devised an accurate and novel way to test blood to see if a pre-cancerous condition is escalating to outright cancer—potentially enabling treatment early in tumor development when cancer is more likely to be curable. The team, led by Thuy Ngo, a member of CEDAR and associate professor of molecular and medical genetics in the OHSU School of Medicine, developed a test that looks for cell-free messenger RNA biomarkers to distinguish multiple myeloma blood samples from non-cancer samples with 90% accuracy, and multiple myeloma from its pre-malignant condition with 100% accuracy. They were able to distinguish liver cancer samples from non-cancer with 93 to 100% accuracy, and liver cancer from cirrhosis with 100% accuracy. The research, published in NPJ Precision Oncology, lays the foundation for developing inexpensive assays that measure levels of cell-free RNA in blood for a small panel of genes that can differentiate cancer from pre-malignant conditions; Ngo and OHSU have filed a patent on their findings. More information on this research is available from OHSU News.

The importance of accelerating early detection research

Sadik Esener and Lisa Coussens

Cancer early detection research can transform patient survival, but there are still significant obstacles preventing the translation of new research findings into the clinical setting, assert leaders of the field, including CEDAR's Sadik Esener and the Knight Cancer Institute's Lisa Coussens, in a new publication in the journal Science. Around half of all cancers are diagnosed at an advanced stage, despite the fact that treatments stand the best chance at improving survival when implemented early. “Late-stage detection of cancer is a global problem that is exacerbated in resource poor settings, demonstrating that equity is a considerable challenge,” the authors observe. “Patients diagnosed with later-stage cancer can miss the window for curative intervention, and expensive later-stage systemic treatments are often associated with severe side effects and worse outcomes.” At CEDAR, researchers are investigating cancer's early changes, and applying this knowledge to work on new, inexpensive screening tests, determining which cancers need vigorous early intervention, and directing precision therapies to reduce drug toxicity. You can read more about the article's findings on the Knight Cancer Institute's Cancer Translated blog.

Ece Eksi discusses new clues to prostate cancer

Sebnem Ece Eksi

CEDAR Postdoctoral Scholar Sebnem (Ece) Eksi recently spoke with the Knight Cancer Institute's Cancer Translated blog, discussing findings that could help identify more dangerous prostate cancers earlier, giving researchers new tools to stop them. Only a fraction of prostate cancers become life-threatening, but predicting which ones is challenging. Eksi and her team found that two signaling proteins used by nerve cells can become active in and around prostate tumors, and may play a role in driving the cancers to be deadly. She discussed the discovery, published in Nature Communications, with Cancer Translated, including how the findings could help molecular biologists working on other cancer types.

Kemal Sonmez recognized as distinguished alumnus

Kemal Sonmez

CEDAR Member Kemal Sonmez was recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus for 2021 by the University of Maryland College Park, "for their leadership and meritorious contributions to the field of engineering, their humanitarian efforts, and the application of their engineering education to other disciplines." Sonmez received his Ph.D. at the University of Maryland College Park.

CEDAR graduate student Kylene Lowrey wins award

Kylene Lowrey

CEDAR graduate student Kylene Lowrey took home first place in the poster session at the All Oregon Bioengineering Symposium. She presented "3D Bioprinting Ultrasound-Responsive Materials for Cellular Manipulation in 3D Tissue Constructs," which also included CEDAR authors Luiz Bertassoni and Carolynn Schutt. At CEDAR, Lowrey works on creating cell cultures in hydrogels and using ultrasound to facilitate localized release of microbubbles in these hydrogels. She worked for several years in materials science, specifically creating unique inorganic nanoarchitectures.

CEDAR team's work published in Communications Biology

Jose Ajay

CEDAR researchers Jose Luis Montoya Mira and Ajay Sapre, alongside teammates Kyle Gustafson, Gene Tu, Jared Fischer, Roger Chiu and Sadik Esener published "Label-free enrichment of rare unconventional circulating neoplastic cells using a microfluidic dielectrophoretic sorting device" in Communications Biology on September 24. The team reported on the development of a label-free dielectrophoretic microfluidic platform facilitating enrichment of CHCs in a high-throughput and rapid fashion by depleting healthy peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). This represents a promising approach to non-invasively analyzing tumor cells from patients.

Defense Department Idea Award for CEDAR's Thuy Ngo

Thuy Ngo Kuni

Thuy Ngo, Ph.D., has received a Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program Idea Award from the Department of Defense for a project to identify blood biomarkers for early diagnosis and treatment monitoring of liver cirrhosis and cancer. Ngo is an Assistant Professor of Molecular and Medical Genetics in the OHSU School of Medicine and a member of CEDAR, the Knight Cancer Institute's Cancer Early Detection Advanced Research Center. Liver cancer, or hepatocellular carcinoma, is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. Current clinical blood tests have low sensitivity to detect liver cancer at early stages and are not effective for the reliable diagnosis of cirrhosis, which puts people at high risk of liver cancer. Patients with liver cancer are often diagnosed with inoperable disease. The Department of Defense award — $769,996 total — is supporting Ngo's proposal to identify cell-free RNA biomarkers (including messenger RNA, circular RNA, transposable elements and microbial transcripts) that can detect cirrhosis and monitor its progression to liver cancer. 

Thuy Ngo awarded Komen grant

The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation announced 30 new grants to leading researchers across the U.S. and Canada — including CEDAR member and Assistant Professor of Molecular and Medical Genetics Thuy Ngo, Ph.D. Ngo was awarded a Career Catalyst Research Grant to study the use of cell-free RNA found in blood as a way to monitor if a treatment is successful for patients with metastatic breast cancer. This method provides the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the behavior and characteristics of the metastatic tumor and to monitor changes in metastatic lesions and responses to treatment. A full list of this year's research grants can be found at Komen.org.

CEDAR/SMMART collaboration receives funding from the Kuni Foundation

The Kuni Foundation has awarded almost $1.5 million to a collaborative project between CEDAR and SMMART, a first-of-its-kind platform designed to rapidly identify combinations of drugs that can stop tumors before they adapt and become drug-resistant. Currently, patients must have two biopsies at a major cancer center to enroll in the program. This is a barrier for people who lack the means to access a major cancer center, including rural, BIPOC, and underserved communities. The project, "Blood Biopsies as a Cost-Effective Approach to Democratize Personalized Therapy for OA & WA Patients" is developing approaches that will decrease the need for surgical biopsies by analyzing blood samples for material that escapes from tumors and goes into the blood stream. This blood can be drawn at any clinic and shipped to OHSU. The features CEDAR's Thuy Ngo as a Co-Investigator; Gordon Mills, director of precision oncology at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, is the Principal Investigator.

Aaron Grossberg receives Science of the Patient Award from AACR

Aaron Grossberg Science Patient

OHSU physician-scientist Aaron Grossberg, M.D., Ph.D. was among the first recipients of the new Science of the Patient Award from the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research. Grossberg is a co-investigator alongside principle investigator Daniel L. Marks, M.D., Ph.D. on research investigating the wasting syndrome cachexia in pancreatic cancer. In advanced cancer and other diseases, cachexia can erode quality of life and hasten death. Marks and Grossberg are focusing on the role of the autonomic and neuroendocrine stress responses in pancreatic cancer cachexia. Marks is a Professor of Pediatrics and Senior Associate Dean for Research in the OHSU School of Medicine. Grossberg is an Assistant Professor of Radiation Medicine with a joint appointment with CEDAR and the Brenden-Colson Center for Pancreatic Care. The Science of the Patient Award was established to stimulate groundbreaking research exploring the influence of biology of the patient on cancer genesis, development, treatment, and survivorship.

Carolyn Schutt Ibsen speaks with the Cancer Translated blog

Carolyn Schutt Ibsen

Carolyn Schutt Ibsen, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering in the OHSU School of Medicine and a member of CEDAR. In a recent interview with the Knight Cancer Institute's Cancer Translated blog, she discusses her research, which investigates the use of "energy-responsive" biomaterials that can be controlled remotely using ultrasound to model cancer progression, as well as to guide the repair of living tissue. In the wide-ranging conversation with CEDAR Postdoctoral Scholar Kathryn Baker, Ph.D., Schutt Ibsen discusses her work's potential the challenges of modeling cancer progression, and how CEDAR's multi-disciplinary environment is critical for her research.

CEDAR staff receive Spirit of the Knight Awards

Twice a year, following an open nominations process, the Knight Cancer Institute's Spirit of the Knight Awards recognize individuals whose work embodies the institute's guiding principles: "We act boldly; we support each other; we work as a connected team." The latest round of awards were announced at the Knight Cancer Institute Town Hall on Wednesday, December 9, with CEDAR staff honored for all three categories. Andre Walcott, CEDAR's Scientific Program Management Scholar, received the Spirit of the Knight Award for "We Act Boldly," in recognition of his development of an internship program, and his efforts in addressing health and science inequities both in CEDAR and in OHSU more broadly. CEDAR's Program Director of Research Operations, Paul Howard, received the award for "We Support Each Other," for his tireless work in ensuring a smooth shutdown and subsequent reopening of CEDAR's research operations, maintaining a safe and productive lab throughout the challenges of COVID-19. And the Clinical Research Coordinators from CEDAR behind the Pathfinder study, consisting of Ryan Sinit, Bo Banks, Mason McLellan, Diana Herrera-Perez, Supriya Pandyas, and Madeleine Matheis, received the award for "We Are A Connected Team" in recognition of their efforts in smoothly coordinating a complicated study during a complex and challenging. Congratulations to these CEDARites for their efforts.

Bruce Branchaud named National Academy of Inventors Fellow

Bruce Branchaud 3

CEDAR Distinguished Scientist and University of Oregon professor emeritus Bruce Branchaud, Ph.D., was named a  20202 National Academy of Inventors Fellow, the highest professional distinction for academic inventors. The 2020 Fellow class represents 115 research universities and governmental and non-profit research institutes worldwide. The NAI Fellows Selection Committee selects candidate that have "demonstrated a highly prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on the quality of life, economic development, and welfare of society." Branchaud joined CEDAR in 2017. He has research experience spanning synthetic organic chemistry, mechanistic/physical organic chemistry, chemical biology, biochemistry, enzymology, chemistry-enabled biotechnology, and biochemistry-enabled biotechnology. He has been a faculty member with the University of Oregon for 37 years and has held several leadership positions in the biotech industry, including serving as Director of Global Chemistry at Invitrogen, where he first worked with CEDAR Director Sadik Esener.

Joshua Saldivar named among the most 100 inspiring Hispanic/Latinx scientists in America

Joshua Saldivar

CEDAR's Joshua Saldivar, Ph.D. was recently named one of the 100 most inspiring Hispanic/Latinx scientists in America by Cell Press's Cell Mentor. In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, Cell Mentor showcased 100 of the United States' most impressive Hispanic/Latinx scientists. The list—selected based on scholarly achievements, mentoring excellence, and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion—highlights scientists across academia, government, and industry. Dr. Saldivar is an Assistant Professor of the Division of Oncological Sciences and a CEDAR scientist. His work focuses on how cells coordinate nuclear processes, such as DNA replication and transcription, through various signals, epigenetic marks, and chromatin regulators that intersect within phase-separated condensates. He uses cutting-edge microscopy approaches and powerful sequencing technologies to uncover the elegant and dynamic biology of chromatin. His long-term goals are to understand how these nuclear processes become destabilized in premalignant cells and drive epigenetic reprogramming and malignant transformation, as this will help us determine which early cancers are likely to become lethal. He joined CEDAR in Fall 2018.

CEDARites awarded in OHSU's Invent-A-Thon

Zeynep Sayar and Samuel Tassi Yunga
Zeynep Sasyar (L) and Samuel Tassi Yunga (R)

OHSU joined forces with MIT Hacking Medicine and academic and industry partners to throw the inaugural OHSU Invent-a-thon, a virtual healthcare hackathon, from Oct. 23 to Oct. 25. The virtual event brought together problem solvers and thought leaders from across disciplines and geographic boundaries, offering teams the opportunity to pitch original solutions to tackle pressing health care challenges. Two teams led by CEDAR staff took home prizes from the Invent-a-thon. CEDAR Graduate Student Zeynep Sayar's team won 1st place in the Early Disease track and won the in-kind prize for "Direct Digital Pathology," which proposes outsourcing the digitization of pathology slides to increase access to and frequency of digitilazation to improve health outcomes. CEDAR Associate Specialist Samuel Tassi Yunga's team won $2000 for their "CommuNutri" idea. This idea proposes diagnosis-focused meal plans to patients with food meal delivery options, directions to pick up fresh ingredients from local farms, and emphasizes culture-appropriate ingredients. It includes a social media ecosystem that connects patients with online nutritionist support. The platfrom can also be scaled up later to include meal plans for the long-term paraclinical management of other diseases.

Hisham Mohammed speaks with the Knight Cancer Institute's Cancer Translated blog

Hisham Mohammed

The Knight Cancer Institute's Cancer Translated blog recently spoke with CEDAR's Hisham Mohammed, Ph.D. Mohammed, an assistant professor of molecular and medical genetics in the OHSU School of Medicine and scientist in CEDAR, helped create a way to peer into individual cells and take multiple measures of gene activity and gene regulation at the same time. He's leading the first efforts to apply that single-cell multi-omic research method to cancer. Cancer Translated spoke with him about the method's prospects for resolving questions into how fundamental biological processes go wrong and begin to regulate and drive cancer—which is key to detecting and treating early cancer.

Aaron Grossberg receives NCI career development award

Aaron Grossberg, M.D., Ph.D., OHSU Knight Cancer Institute

Aaron Grossberg, M.D., Ph.D., has received a Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award from the National Cancer Institute for his research on pancreatic cancer. Grossberg is an assistant professor of radiation medicine in the OHSU School of Medicine. He has a joint appointment with CEDAR and the Brenden-Colson Center for Pancreatic Care. Grossberg's lab studies the interaction between cancer and metabolism in an effort to identify ways to diagnose cancers sooner and improve the quality of life of cancer patients. NCI's K08 awards provide support and protected time to non-tenured clinician-scientists at the early career stage for an intensive, mentored research career development experience in basic, translational, or patient-oriented cancer-focused-research. The award will support further research on the wasting syndrome cachexia in pancreatic cancer. The mechanisms underlying cachexia are poorly understood, and there remain no effective treatments. Grossberg's team has found that pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma alters the regulation of metabolic genes in the liver, the organ that controls whole-body physiology in response to nutrient availability. The researchers are working to understand this deregulation of liver metabolism, its role in cancer cachexia, and the circulating signals that mediate these changes.

Michelle (Shelley) Barton joins CEDAR as co-director of cancer biology

Michelle Barton, Ph.D., CEDAR, OHSU Knight Cancer Institute

Michelle (Shelley) Barton, a scientist and academic leader at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, is joining the Knight Cancer Institute as CEDAR’s new co-director of cancer biology. She comes to CEDAR by way of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center where she is a Professor in the Department of Epigenetics and Molecular Carcinogenesis, as well as the Dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Dr. Barton has deep biological expertise in cancer epigenetics and signaling, and a strong track record and interest in bringing new technologies to bear on biological questions. She also has a passion for teaching and mentoring. In her role at MD Anderson, she increased recruiting efforts aimed at creating a student body that is more reflective of Texas and the United States; the school is currently 12th in the nation for under-represented Ph.D. students. She also created a structure that would support diverse students once they arrived. As a co-director, she will help to set the scientific direction of the center.

Beverly Emerson honored as fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences

Beverly Emerson, Ph.D., OHSU Knight Cancer Institute

Molecular biologist Beverly Emerson, Ph.D., joined an accomplished roster of scientists, artists, scholars and all-around leaders who were elected fellows of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. The 2020 class include singer-songwriter-activist Joan Baez, former Attorney General Eric Holder, novelist Ann Patchett, and indie filmaker Richard Linklater. Emerson is a distinguished scientist with CEDAR, and a professor emeritus at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

Using radiation to boost circulating DNA for ‘liquid biopsies’ of cancer

•	Using radiation to boost circulating DNA for ‘liquid biopsies’ of cancer

Testing for tumor DNA in blood is easier and safer than taking a biopsy of tumor tissue. The problem is, early-stage tumors may not shed enough DNA to find in a blood draw. Researchers at OHSU are working on a way to use radiation to increase the amount of tumor DNA in blood. They’ve shown that patients with suspected lung tumors show a sharp increase in circulating tumor DNA after treatment with stereotactic body radiation therapy, or SBRT.

CEDAR postdoc wins poster prize at nuclear receptors meeting

Aysegul Ors, Ph.D

Aysegul Ors, Ph.D., won an award at the 2nd Nuclear Receptors Conference for her poster presentation on the use of single-cell, multi-omic sequencing technologies to study transcriptomic and epigenetic heterogeneity in hormone-driven breast cancers. Ors is a CEDAR postdoctoral scholar. She's working with Alex Chitsazan, M.S., a CEDAR research associate, and Hisham Mohammed, Ph.D., a CEDAR scientist and assistant professor of molecular and medical genetics in the OHSU School of Medicine.

Investigational blood test could detect many types of cancer with one blood draw

Investigational blood test could detect many types of cancer with one blood draw

The Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Science University is one of five sites across the country selected by GRAIL, Inc., a health care company dedicated to detecting cancer early, to join a study designed to improve early detection of cancer. The PATHFINDER study will evaluate the implementation of an investigational early detection test that has been designed to test many types of cancer through a single blood draw, into clinical practice for the first time.

International alliance sets bold research ambition to detect the (almost) undetectable

International Alliance for Cancer Early Detection, or ACED.

The OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, together with collaborators across the U.S. and the U.K., announced the formation of the International Alliance for Cancer Early Detection, or ACED. This new alliance is formed by the coordinated efforts of Cancer Research UK, Canary Center at Stanford University, the University of Cambridge, the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, University College London (UCL) and the University of Manchester.

Building a world-class team of women scientists

Beverly Emerson, Ph.D

Women in the Knight Cancer Institute are making significant advancements in their fields. Onward, the magazine of the OHSU Foundation, profiled nine of them. Tackling a problem as big as cancer is often a matter of moving one step forward, two steps back. It requires patience and persistence and an unwavering belief that the answer is out there — at least, that’s the way Beverly Emerson, Ph.D., sees it.

Explore careers in cancer research at Knight School

Knight School-Careers in cancer

Few people know the wide variety of careers available to those who may be interested in working in the field of cancer. Knight Cancer Institute scientists share their experiences, discuss their work, and talk about the ways they mentor and develop young people so they can be a part of the effort to end cancer as we know it. Knight School is a series of community-facing science talks designed to educate, entertain, and inspire with stories told by Knight Cancer researchers, clinicians and patients.

Cancer 101: An introduction to early detection research

Cancer 101 Knight School

Learn about the history of cancer treatment, what's possible today and what's next in treatment and therapy as we work to end cancer as we know it. Watch the Knight School session.

They chose OHSU: Hisham Mohammed, Ph.D.

Hisham Mohammed, Ph.D.

Hisham Mohammed, Ph.D., is an associate scientist at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute Cancer Early Detection Advanced Research (CEDAR) center, one of the largest initiatives in the world focused on research to enable the detection of cancers at an earlier, more treatable stage. At the University of Cambridge, UK, while working as a Ph.D. student, Mohammed invented a method to analyze and understand protein complexes more efficiently — a method now being used in labs across the world. Importantly, this method allowed him to discover a pivotal role for the hormone progesterone in regulating breast cancer.

Knight Cancer Institute hopes collaboration will lead to cures

CEDAR collaboration

Leaders at the Knight Cancer Institute know that scientific discoveries are not guaranteed, even with $1 billion to spend looking for answers. They also know that some of the world’s most dramatic discoveries happened by accident, when scientists were looking for something completely different than what they ended up finding. Collaborative, multi-disciplinary work — a kind of intellectual cross-pollination that can lead to surprising results — is the goal at OHSU.

The promise of early detection: Watch Sadik Esener's Marquam Hill Lecture

Sadik Esener, Ph.D.

Sadik Esener, Ph.D., is building a multidisciplinary team to reveal the evolutionary biology of cancer to develop low-cost screening, determine which cancers to aggressively treat and leverage precision therapies to minimize toxicity. The Wendt Family Chair professor of biomedical engineering in the OHSU School of Medicine and director of the Knight Cancer Institute Cancer Early Detection Advanced Research center (CEDAR), Dr. Esener and his team's goal is to find and eliminate lethal cancers at the earliest stage with little harm to the patient.